Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog

BbWorld’08… what happened in Vegas is on my Blog!
July 25, 2008, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Conferences

You can usually find me with my laptop in sessions frantically taking notes trying to keep up with the presenter. If it’s later in the day, you may find me very close to the wall, or wherever I can find a power outlet. )

This year was not much different, however, due to the limited wireless connectivity at the Palazzo and Venetian conference center, I am still working on finishing up my blog post. In addition, I was also pretty busy at the conference this year, so I didn’t really have much time for visiting the CyberCafe to upload my notes.

Anyway, I’ll work on posting my notes on my dedicated BbWorld Conference Blog asap. Here are some of my thoughts about Project NG that I also posted to BLKBRD in response to a thread started by Donna Wicks at Kettering University:

I echo the comments already mentioned ala Malcom, Neal, Ed, Donna, etc. while I’m also focusing on identifying some additional teaching learning capabilities that Corrie eluded to such as Google Apps or maybe some course content authoring tools?

The theme of openness is clearly there. The Learning Environment Connector, mashups (YouTube, Digg, Kadoo, TeacherTube, Flickr, Picassa), etc. should provide the ability to leverage new Web 2.0 technologies that exist now or are on the horizon. Or perhaps the ability to more deeply integrate other applications beyond the Building Block apis. See: Bb Sync (Facebook), iPhone, My CellPhone, MyYahoo, iGoogle, or maybe even Google Apps, etc.

The theme of an easier and updated interface that requires fewer clicks and is “function oriented” so that tasks are at your fingertips has the potential to be more efficient for faculty. I really like the dashboard views for faculty and students (what’s new, what’s due, what needs attention, alerts, notifications, etc.). I also like the “welcome to your course – first time user” box as you enter into a course. I hope this is also fully customizable by our institution to provide some information to our faculty on setting up their course sites. Our faculty will give applause when I show them the NG Grade Center with the “Switch Grade Center” button – so that they can switch easily to another section/course.

The theme of customization and personalization via a wide array of themes and custom CSS will allow better branding. This could also help the migration and upgrade process since the NG application can be made to look like “Bb Classic” or “Bb CE”. (I hope that CSS customization applies to the course level as well.) I also like the ability to allow a more flexible “out of the course” environment. So teams, committees, and student groups can have a more dynamic experience to share and create their own collaborative spaces outside of the formal course or organization environment.

Other than including a blog/journal feature, it is a little unclear at this point if any of the core tools have been improved… I’d imagine they will be. Take the calendar for example. Having a new skin on that will not encourage faculty to use it, unless the calendar events can be exported/imported/auto-populated by the assignment and exam tools, and what not.

To sum up, the framework is clearly there to take us into the future and for that I am impressed. I’d expect Project NG will allow us to grow, add more functionality, and jump on new Web 2.0 tools as they are released much more effectively, while providing a more intuitive interface for end users.

All in all I enjoyed the keynote and think it was one of the best because there were visuals to back up the direction, rather than a few bullet points. The MAC vs PC videos were also nice to break up the keynote and provide some laughs.

The BEST part of the conference was:
1. The Keynotes – Donna Shalala from the University of Miami and of course Steve Wozniak. (I missed out on Mike Wesch’s Developers Conference Keynote.)
2. Seeing my long time friends again… and making new ones!
3. Project NG Screenshots – I’m very happy that NG will include the addition of blogs and wikis. The dashboard views and integration of social networking will provide a more dynamic learning environment.

1. Wireless connectivity. Not very good for a technology conference.
2. Too many awesome sessions to pick from!
3. I never had enough time to see everything in the vendor hall.

1. I like the summer time frame since more of our faculty can attend because they are not teaching classes.
2. I’m looking forward to the Washington DC location. Hopefully more Blackboard staff will be available to talk to.

See you all next year? )